I’ve now seen three commentaries on the latest Gallup poll, and they’re telling a consistent story: Chigago is, or should be, sweating profusely about these latest polling numbers. And the evidence is they are.
The Eye Candy: National Polls.
National polls are great and continue to give encouraging news of a Mitt 2-4% lead. The RealClearPolitics average of polls gives Mitt a solid 1% edge. The latest poll in that group, a Rasmussen poll of 1,500 likely voters from October 25 to October 27 (yesterday), gives Mitt a 3% lead. The underlying data show Mitt is winning more Republicans (90%) than Obama is Democrats (85%), but the big news on the national front is that Mitt is leading among independents by 11%. But national polls are really the eye candy of the presidential politics. Fun to look at, but in the end, not what will make the difference.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road: State Polls
What’s really important, as we all know, is what happens in the electoral college. So what about those swing states? Well, there’s good news there, too, even if there’s lots of work to be done. Rasmussen’s electoral college map, based on Rasmussen’s own polling in each state, shows Mitt leading or tied in the critical swing states of Florida (50%/48%), Virginia (50%/47%), Colorado (50%/46%), Iowa (48%/48%), New Hampshire (50%/48%), Wisconsin (49%/49%) and, perhaps most importantly, Ohio (48%/48%). Given Mitt was behind in these states a couple weeks ago, and the press’ coronation of Obama as the narrow winner of the last two debates, the trends here are in the right direction: Mitt is gaining when it counts, and Mitt has an ability to improve, while Obama, who the voters have known for four years, is more likely to drop. Other states are also narrowing: Minnesota and Pennsylvania are closer than expected, if still leaning Obama. And no one thought Wisconsin would be tied a few weeks ago. If you don’t like Rasmussen’s numbers, you can turn to RealClearPolitics’ collection of polls and resulting electoral college map. RCP reports similar numbers for each of those states. It shows Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire in a closer race, with Obama having a slight lead in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, with Mitt continuing to make inroads.
So national and state polling shows it’s a very close race, Obama has a miniscule and shrinking lead in states he needs to win, and Mitt is either tied or within easy striking distance in all the same states. Very encouraging for a challenger.
The Zinger: the Latest Gallup Poll
The real story is that Gallup poll. Neil Stevens of Red State dissects Gallup’s numbers and says: